For many of us, clean, potable water comes directly from the tap. But for billions, it is not so simple, and all over the world, researchers are looking for ways to solve this problem. Today, the work comes from Berkeley, where a team is working on a water collecting device that does not require any energy and can produce water even in dry air of the desert. Hey, if a cactus can do it, why not us?
Although there are many methods to collect water from the air, many need power or parts that need to be replaced; what Professor Omar Yaghi has developed does not need either.
The secret is not a smart solar concentrator or a low-friction fan – it all depends on the materials. Yaghi is a chemist and has created what is called an organo-metallic framework, or MOF, that is eager to both absorb and release water.
It is essentially a powder made of tiny crystals in which the molecules of water get stuck as the temperature decreases. Then, when the temperature rises again, the water is released again in the air.
Yaghi demonstrated the small-scale process last year, but now, he and his team have released the results of a larger field test producing actual amounts of energy. ;water.
They set up a box about two feet apart on each side with a layer of MOF on top that is exposed to the air. Every night, the temperature drops and the humidity increases, and the water is trapped inside the MOF; in the morning, the heat of the sun drives the water out of the powder, and it condenses on the sides of the box, cooled by a kind of hat. The result of a night's work: 3 ounces of water per pound of MOF used.
This is not much more than a few sips, but improvements are already underway. Currently, the MOF uses zicronium, but an aluminum – based MOF, already tested in the laboratory, will cost 99% less and will produce twice as much water.
With the new powder and a handful of boxes, a person 's water needs are met without using energy or consumables. Add a mechanism that collects and stores water and you get an off-grid drinking water solution.
"There is nothing like it," Yaghi said in a Berkeley statement. "It works at room temperature with ambient sunlight, and without additional energy input, you can collect water in the desert.The aluminum MOF makes this convenient for production. water, because it's cheap. "
He says that there are already commercial products in development. Other tests, with mechanical improvements and including the new MOF, are planned for the hottest months of summer.